Freshwater to test my new camerahousing

I finally have a camera housing for my old Canon EOS 550 D camera. The housing seems to be functioning, but it is far from perfect. For now it will have to do, though. I will publish a review later. Check facebook also. First decent shots: (click for larger)


I know I should have posted this about 2 months earlier, but I was still working on getting the site migrated. Now on the new site I have plenty of options to place a new article on the manta’s we’ve seen during our Maledives trip.

So here it is!

More than 5 minutes of Manta shots, all filmed at the Maldives, including shots with 5 manta’s, 2 manta’s going head on, playing chicken, a looping, close-ups… and some general feel-good shots.

Maldives – Arrival and diving MV Victory

Not something you see very often; a diver, going to the Maldives and then diving straight from Malé itself. Normally everyone lands at the airport, then boards a water taxi or a seaplane to move to their final destination, a resort. Not me. You don’t need to stay at the Malé island… you can simply rent a cheap hut at the beach for just as much as you would spend in Malé on a hotel but me and my travel agent didn’t know.

The advantage of staying in Malé would, however, be that you get to know the locals. For me especially interesting, because I play Ingress, a GPS game that requires you to move around town. I got in contact with the local Resistance players and had a few hacks with them, they advised me on my mobile data and toured me around Malé. (Thanks Najfa)

bad weather on MaléSo I arrived from Abu Dhabi, I had a good flight, arrived in Malé and went to search for my hotel and finally found it in some small ally. I planned my first dives with Sea Explorers, based on Malé itself. I called them and the owner volunteered to come to the hotel to discuss how to do the diving for the next days. Weather was bad, so some of the dives were cancelled.


The mast…



The dives were great, by any standard… Diving from Male meant getting your gear to the divecenter, checking it and moving to the boat. Roughly at 10am we sailed and moved out to the first dive. Two days of diving were done in no-time at all. The guide/instructor was good, and on the first day we had a divemaster-in-training to join us. Business was slow, end of the rainy season and this was not the right place to be diving at the moment.. so there were no other guests. This, however, made it possible to do a dive on the MV Victory, a freighter, loaded with cement, that went down just between the airport and the main island a couple of decades ago. It is a relatively difficult dive, due to the currents and the depths (top of the mast 12m, bottom of the shop 35m). Access is not all that easy and you have to follow the mooring line down to the wreck. It is nicely preserved and even has books and cassette tapes laying around. the ship itself is open for diving. We went in at the Deck level and my guide toured me around until we exited the bridge. Low on air, we had to go to the mast via the rope there, and up to 5 meter to do the safety stop.

Life in Malé itself during rainy season is not that special, as said. But for the tourist visiting, there still is lots to see and do. Not that I took time to do them…

Above the taxi boat I arived in, the qua and the motorcycles parked everywhere. Motorcycle to person rate must be something like 1:1, here.


Divelights – Chinese lights revisited

I have been using Chinese import divelights for years now. I bought my first lamp 6 years ago, after a long study on the European and American brands at that time. Most were offering Halogen or HID lights around the 400 to 800 Euro. The first LED lights were priced around that level as well. Canister lights were still not so very popular and goodman handles did not really exist.

Then the first Chinese imports started appearing. After long hesitation I finally bought me a 1200 Lumen light. Back then 1200 lumen was the absolute top. It would be like diving in daylight and the only thing I would see with that much light was baked or fried fish. True. Diving in Holland really limits the lightlevels you can be using. Normally 500 Lumen is more than you would ever need, I think. But then again, I use my light as cameralight as well.

I have been experimenting and testing my lighting setups for a few years now. I found some really cheap lights, bought them, to be used as cameralights. My MJ-850 finally quit on me, after 5 years… just before I went on my first Northsea wreckdive weekend. Bad timing. I ordered some more new Chinese lights on the spot. I needed to have them fast, because I was getting ready for my Maldives holiday as well. I now have a range of Chinese lights, including my latest addition, a new heavy duty light and a small 300 lm video light. This post is about the range I now have, how they compare and my advice on the lights.

The low end

simple, decent, surprisingly good

simple, decent, surprisingly good

Less than 7 USD buys you a low end 900lm light that has decent properties… and a tendency to drown when going deep. The good news: although I had 3 drownings with one of them, I was able to just dry, replace batteries and lube the o-rings… and it lived again. The light gives decent light, is easy to use although it is quite heavy to twist on and off. It has 3 settings: off, on, strobe. It also comes with a Velco wriststrap, which is of no use when you have european style wrists… or a thick divesuit/drysuit. With a small modification I use the light mainly for photography- and video-light. It can easily be fixed to my camera arms. (the lamp is light.. so no extra buoyancy stuff needed) A more extensive review will follow.

The compact, well made lamp

works good as backup, although with a small issue

works good as backup, although with a small issue

Just double the price of my yellow favourite is the sturdy, small backup light with an advertised 600lm. I have had this lamp on me for 25 dives as a backup. Problem with this lamp is 2-fold:

  1. it oscillates at about the frequency my camera uses for metering, result is many failed photo’s and bad video. (which, off course, I only discovered to be the cause after I finished diving in the Maldives)
  2. the on/off toggle switch switches WAY to easy. When I used this light as backup, I had several dives with a lighted BCD-pocket. The light turned on inside my jacket.

The Magicshine 810 revised edition

The 810, still perfect for travel.

The 810, still perfect for travel.

A divelight that has been around in several editions for over 7 years (*that I know of). The price has gone down quite dramatically and it is easily affordable as a backup while it is advertised to have 900 lumen, so no problems to use as a main lamp. I have used this light for a couple of dives, and really, this will be my travel light. It is small, light and has more than enough light in 3 dimmable settings, and strobe functions.

The 6000 Lumen for 25 USD light

Not really 6000 Lumen but more than enough

Not really 6000 Lumen but more than enough

Well, it was to good to be true. Off course it is no 6000 Lumen. It can be roughly 1200, if I compare it to the other lights I have, and even that might be a bit much if we are talking about measured lumen. The light has a ring switch and several good settings. It has 5 o-rings in 2 user maintained openings and a secret 3rd opening, you will only discover when the light gets flooded. Yes, this light flooded after 1 dive… I serviced the o-rings I had found… not the one I couldn’t find. The good thing, though: I get a replacement, sent to me by the Chinese trader that sold me this lamp and now I know the issue about that leaking o-ring, I am sure it will not happen again… I hope ;-].

The LM2200, heavy, sturdy

Heavy duty

Heavy duty

I have to confess this light still has had no logged dives with me. It is still quite expensive, but it is a different quality level as well. 1200 lumen, dimmable and battery indicator LEDs. This will be my main lamp for diving in Holland. It has a charger that plugs in to the light. The batteries cannot be removed for recharging. It comes with extra o-rings and a nice bag to transport it in. I need to build me a diffusor, off course and I need to find a way to get this attached to my vest. Looking forward to diving with this lamp.